While more than a month has passed since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown, the measure seems to do little to break the infection chain, with the country reporting the biggest single-day leap in the number of patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID) today. The Union Health Ministry informed the press today that there have been 2,644 new cases in the last 24 hours and 83 deaths — which is the highest so far too — taking the total to 39,980 cases and 1,301 deaths.
Last week, the country had registered more than 13,000 cases. The highly infectious disease had caused more than 700 deaths till 1 May.
On 1 May, Delhi had recorded the biggest spike in coronavirus cases on Saturday. As many as 384 new cases took the total to 4,122 infections, the third-highest in the country after Maharashtra and Gujarat. In the national capital, with more than 90 containment zones, the total number of patients who have recovered is 1,256. Sixty-four people could not survive the viral attack.
The recovery rate — the number of patients who have survived the illness — in India stood at 26.59% this morning. As many as 10,633 patients have recovered so far.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-certified labs and medical centres have tested over 10 lakh samples so far, out of which 30,000 are repeat samples.
The union government said it had ordered 2.22 crore personal protection equipment (PPE). It said domestic manufacturers would make 1.43 crore of the units.
COVID: A Chinese scourge
Originating in China’s Wuhan city in September 2019 — which Beijing did insists it began in December — COVID spread to over 180 countries in the world, initially targeting countries that the source country has had unfriendly relations with.
Worldwide, over 34, lakh have contracted coronavirus so far. Over 2,4 lakh have died. COVID deaths in the US, the worst-hit country, have gone up by 1,435 in the past 24 h.
In India, while the contagion spread slowly, the outbreak can now be classified as an epidemic, short of a pandemic that it is globally, much as the institutions of the country are not into labelling diseases into the three classifications: outbreak, epidemic and pandemic.
The India-wide lockdown is set to ease from tomorrow in parts of the country that are least affected. The Ministry of Home Affairs has marked these as orange and green zones.
Strict restrictions will continue to be in place in the worst-hit districts marked as red zones even though some businesses/offices will be allowed to function with 33% staff strength in the private sector and office bearers above the rank of a deputy secretary in the government sector.
IAF salutes health workers treating COVID patients
As Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat had announced, the Indian Air Force (IAF) today carried out flypasts and lit up ships at sea. Passing over the cities, the IAF aircraft showered flower petals on hospitals today as a mark of gratitude for healthcare workers who have been in the forefront of the fight against COVID.
Calling it a “gesture of special gratitude”, the CDS had said on Friday, “The nation stood together, it showed resilience to overcome this crisis. In our country, everybody understands that when it comes to the nation we have to stand together.”
This was the third dramatic albeit emotional display of gratitude to those providing healthcare services since the imposition of the lockdown, beginning with one where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged people to bang utensils outside their houses at 5 PM on 22 March and another occasion when he urged people to light lamps at 9 PM for 9 min on 5 April after switching off all household electric lights.
While the alarm raised over the possibility of the national power grid tripping on 5 April proved a hoax, detractors of the current dispensation called the IAF flypast an “avoidable expenditure”. The Times of India attributed the tweet of an unverified account to former IAF chief BS Dhanoa to say, “Why are the armed forces being used as the official cheerleaders to express gratitude to the tireless corona health care workers, doctors, support staff and nameless others on May 3.”
Dhanoa is officially not present on Twitter.
Migrant labourers’ panic may worsen the situation
Meanwhile, the union government, under the pressure of state governments, permitted thousands of stranded migrants, tourists and students to travel back to their respective home states. Thousands began their journey back home two days ago. The Railways is running special trains for them.
Seven of the migrant workers, who returned to Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra, have been found to be COVID-positive.
Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said on 1 May that the borders with all the states in the northeast, except Sikkim, would reopen today. This was to “ease the return” of those stranded in the other states in the region.
“No passes will be required for those travelling from these states,” he said in a tweet. He said, “All returnees to be screened at interstate borders for COVID symptoms.”
Among the fighters of the disease on the forefront outside their homes are the police, of whom 122 jawans at a CRPF battalion in Delhi have tested COVID-positive in the past 14 days, officials had said on 1 May. Test results of 100 others are yet to come. These policemen are from the 31st battalion of the paramilitary force, based in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar Phase 3.
Worse, Muslim mobs continue to attack policemen across the country. Mumbai Police filed an FIR under Sections 353, 188 and 269 of the Indian Penal Code against a person for attacking cops in Kurla yesterday.
On 29 April, a police team was attacked while it was on a COVID-related enforcement duty in the Kurla Pipeline area.
No flight yet
In another development, aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) two days ago had issued a circular to continue with the suspension of domestic and international commercial flight operations till 17 May. This followed the home ministry’s announcement of the extension of the ongoing lockdown till that date.